24 applications received in leader search

Catawba County Schools Board of Education is moving ahead at a fast rate to find the school system's new superintendent.
During Monday's board meeting, after board members Sherry Butler, Charlie Wyant, David Brittain and Glenn Fulbright were sworn in, it was down to business as Allison Schafer, of the North Carolina School Board Association, presented board members with information regarding the superintendent search.
After the November application deadline, Schafer said 24 applications were received for the superintendent position.
"That is a very good number," Schafer said, adding that any number higher than 15 shows interest. “I hope (the board) can find candidates (they) are excited about.”
The 24 applications, which made their way to board members in two large boxes in a closed-session meeting, will be reviewed by the board. Schafer will meet with board members Jan. 4 in closed session to identify candidates for interviews. The board's target date to have a superintendent hired is March 7.
On average, Schafer said about four candidates can be interviewed a day. She encouraged board members to have their calendars available at the Jan. 4 meeting to ensure interviews are scheduled at appropriate times for all board members.
In addition to superintendent candidates chosen by the board, Schafer also recommends the board use survey results from the community and staff of Catawba County Schools.
With 750 responses on the community survey and 397 responses on the staff survey, all agree that the superintendent should have strong communication skills to get employees, parents, students and the community to work together. In addition, staff and community responses reveal a superintendent should have been an effective classroom teacher.
"The surveys have a lot of comments and are very informative," Schafer said.
Other characteristics rated in the top 10 of the surveys include experience as a principal; sound understanding of school finance, budgets and business management; supportive of school discipline; and should offer timely responses to concerns.
Aside from answering questions on the surveys, each participant was given an opportunity to comment. The community survey received 327 comments, and the staff survey has 160 comments.
Many comments pertain suggestions of who board members should and should not consider for the superintendent position. Those names were not revealed to the public, but only to board members in closed session. Other comments highlight the importance of the arts in Catawba County and express the need to have a superintendent who backs up various types of art programs in the community and the need for communication and team work to be a important characteristic of the new leader.
Meetings for initial interviews and to select finalists is expected to be from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4. Final interviews and reference checks and/or to decide on offers will be Feb. 21-28.
Catawba County Schools Board of Education's next meeting will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 to discuss Webb A. Murray Elementary School projects. The location was not announced as of press time Monday.
The Jan. 4 meeting to discuss superintendent applications will start at 8:30 a.m. at the legal office of CCS attorney Crystal Davis in Conover. The closed-session meeting is expected to last at least an hour.
Glenn Barger is serving as interim superintendent for CCS until a new superintendent is hired. Former CCS superintendent Dr. Tim Markley accepted a position as superintendent with New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington.